Amalgamated Wins Big Lots

BOSTON Closeout retailer Big Lots has moved the creative portion of its estimated $50 million ad account to Amalgamated in New York following a review, according to Pile and Co., which helped manage the selection process.

In the hunt along with Amalgamated was New York shop Merkley + Partners, as well as Bernstein-Rein in Kansas City and The Richards Group in Dallas. All are independents except for Merkley, which is a unit of Omnicom Group.

The client and winning agency could not immediately be reached for comment.

SBC Advertising in Westerville, Ohio, handled the account for nearly 20 years. The incumbent declined to participate, though it had been invited to do so.

Recent marketing materials, including the Columbus, Ohio-based client’s Web site, have used the positioning line, “Brand names. Closeout prices.”

“We have had a successful and productive relationship with SBC over the years,” said Rob Claxton, client svp, marketing, in a statement, when the review began in May. “As Big Lots continues to grow, it is important for us to ensure we have the best agency possible to help us meet our creative objectives.”

In March, Interpublic Group’s Initiative added digital and local buying duties on Big Lots stores following a review. Those new duties accounted for more than 50 percent of the chain’s national media spending. The agency already handled the national buying portion of the business.

Initiative added those chores from SBC, which defended along with other undisclosed agencies. The account is run out of Initiative’s Atlanta office.

Big Lots operates about 1,350 stores nationwide, offering a range of bargain-priced merchandise, including furniture, housewares, toys, food and seasonal gift items.

The retail sector has been especially active of late, with Sears-Kmart tapping MPG for media chores in May and Wal-Mart picking The Martin Agency and MediaVest in January following a lengthy and controversial review process. Electronics retailer Best Buy moved its estimated $200 million business to BBDO last month.